Hong Kong Visas Made Easy

26

Jun 2019

I am an Independent Contractor Not an Employee – Can I Get an Employment Visa as an Intercompany Transferee?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Investment Visas, Your Question Answered / 4 responses

Sometimes, round-pegs-in-square-holes situations crop up which make the challenge of securing a Hong Kong employment visa especially daunting!

This question raises a very interesting set of circumstances which make for an interesting visa application experience ahead!

QUESTION

“I have been working for the same group of companies for the last 7 years. We have operations in both Singapore and Shanghai turning over approximately USD7 million each year. While I am based in Singapore, my employer wants me to relocate full time to oversee our operations in Hong Kong. Our Hong Kong company has no staff and only a ‘brass plaque’ presence, however, we have been booking profits there for the last couple of years and can show a USD2 million turnover. This will increase by another USD3 million in the next 12 months. I have been providing my services to the group via a Pte Ltd company in Singapore since the very beginning and will be doing the same thing in Hong Kong through my own Hong Kong Ltd company which I established 6 months ago in the expectation of this relocation. My annual contract is valued at USD150,000 p.a. plus bonuses. The Hong Kong business will grow with my relocation there and we will hire local employees and share an office, initially, with one of our trading partners – although it will take 9-12 months for any of this to happen. What type of visa am I looking at, what documents should I prepare and how long will it all take? Thanks!”

ANSWER

Essential Approvability of Your Circumstances

Given the size and nature of your company’s commercial endeavours in both Singapore and Shanghai along with the fact that your Hong Kong company is showing a historical turnover of c.USD2 million in the recent past and will likely record a further c.USD3 million in the next 12 months, there is little doubt, in my opinion, that your company’s ‘story’ for Hong Kong will pass muster with the Hong Kong Immigration Department (“HKID”).

Moreover, the fact that you are a 7 years strong ‘defacto’ intercompany transferee being deployed to Hong Kong from Singapore in pursuit of that story, gives me confidence in being able to advise you that, when your application for a Hong Kong residence visa made under the General Employment Policy has played itself out, you will indeed be granted the immigration permissions you are seeking to allow you to direct, manage and oversee the Hong Kong activities of your group as you have set them out in your question.

The Principal Challenge

The fact that you are not a formal employee of the group business but are an independent contractor places you in a round pegs in square holes situation in so far as your application to the HKID goes.

Under the General Employment Policy, an application for an employment visa on an intercompany transferee basis is usually a quite straightforward affair. Ostensibly, you need to adduce evidence to the HKID of your current employment with a group company (official governmental filings evidencing you as an employee usually serve this role), produce an employment contract extended from the Hong Kong entity to you personally to cover your ‘transfer’ into Hong Kong and then set out educating the HKID as to how the economy of Hong Kong will be substantially benefitted by your Hong Kong company being afforded the privilege of being deemed an acceptable sponsor for your employment visa permissions.

This Infographic lays out in simple terms what’s involved in the out and out employment visa scenario. Whilst this content does not assume an intercompany transferee situation, the approvability test and the process involved are essentially the same.

However, due to your historical status as an independent contractor and not an out and out employee, the HKID will automatically assess your application on the investment visa criteria which will put you in the realm of a one-man business. This Infographic covers this scenario.

As you can see, the two approaches in the employment visa consideration exercise under the General Employment Policy are very different and the trick to an efficient, stress free application in your circumstances is to educate the HKID as to the rationale for the independent contractor relationship both in your situation specifically and also in your industry generally and then go on to apply a hybrid investment visa/employment visa approvability argument, seeking to minimise the onerous requirements of the investment visa criteria and up-play the intercompany transferee employment visa criteria.

This is not, by any means, a run of the mill situation!

For more reading on the investment visa, please read this Post. Moreover, this content discusses how, sometimes, in what appears to be a straighforward intercompany transferee situation, things can go terribly wrong (hence the need to be careful about how an application is approached).

Documentation Generally

You can gain a sense of the documentation needed under both of the visa types at play in your situation as follows:

Employment Visa Checklist
Investment Visa Checklist

Case Processing Time

It would be reasonable to expect the application processing time, from first submission through to application outcome, to last 10-14 weeks, depending on the speed at which you turn around the provision of documentation when called for by the HKID as part of the case consideration exercise subsequently.

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24

Jun 2019

Hong Kong Right of Abode Application – Consider Your Strategy & Plan Early

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Long Stay & PR, Your Question Answered / 8 responses

First Published July 27, 2012 – Advice Still Highly Relevant Today

This question comes in 2 parts. The first relates to positive planning in respect of an eventual Hong Kong right of abode application. The second touches on the mechanics of an aligned change of sponsorship application to the Immigration Department in the run in to the 7 year milestone where a permanent residency application comes into play.

QUESTION

“Hi Stephen, first of all, thank you very much for your website and the information you provide. It’s very helpful.

I was wondering if you could help me answer some of the questions that I have related to working visas and permanent residency. I have contacted the Immigration Department directly, but only got the standard vanilla answer pointing me to some of the documentation on their website which doesn’t have detailed information relevant to my particular case (or at least I haven’t been able to find it).

I would really appreciate your advice and time.

I have been employed and residing in Hong Kong for the last 5.5 years. The whole time I have been staying on the basis of a working visa sponsored my employer (Employment as a Professional). My current working visa is valid until April 2013.

I am now looking to change jobs and already have an offer from another company who are willing to sponsor my working visa. However, the new job would involve extensive traveling for business in South East Asia region.

I have the following questions:

1) I am concerned that the demand for traveling associated with the new job and the fact that I would be away from Hong Kong, likely continuously for up to several months at times, might negatively affect my permanent residency application which I will qualify for towards the end of 2013. Hong Kong has become my home and I am planning to remain here in the future. Therefore the ability to become a permanent resident without any difficulties is absolutely crucial to me.

As such, would you know if there are any restrictions on how much time I can spend away from Hong Kong on business?

– Is there a limit to how many days I can be traveling in a row?

– And similarly, is there a certain amount of days that I need to be present in Hong Kong during the year overall?

– Ultimately, will the extensive traveling cause any issues when I apply for the permanent residency next year?

 The only specific information I found was in the application for permanent residency in which one must declare that they haven’t been away from Hong Kong for more than 6 months continuously. I haven’t found any info on how they treat if you travel for 2 – 3 months, then come back (say for 1 month), then go away again for 2 – 3 months, come back, etc., and repeat this process several times in a year.

2) Ideally, I would like to finish my current employment and start the new one without any interruption. I understand that I am required to apply for a new working visa, sponsored by the new company.

– Would you know if it’s possible to apply for the new working visa while still being employed by my current visa sponsor?

– Do I need to hand in my resignation letter first? 

– And what would happen in case my new visa application is unsuccessful?

– Would my current working visa become invalid (because I have stopped working for a company that sponsored it) and would I be required to leave Hong Kong immediately or would I be granted some grace period during which I could either reapply for the visa or look for another job opportunity?

 Thank you very much in advance for your help.”

More Stuff You May Find Interesting or Useful

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Can I study then get married all whilst holding an employment visa for a company I no longer work for?

Is it ever OK to work in Hong Kong on a visitor visa?

PODCAST ANSWER
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21

Jun 2019

Is It a Good or a Bad Sign That the HKID Keep Coming Back With Further Requests for Information?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Family Visas, Investment Visas, Refusals & Appeals, Special Programmes, Visitor Visas, Your Question Answered / 3 responses

This question seeks to understand what you should make of repeat requests for information from the Hong Kong Immigration Department (HKID) during the course of your visa application.

QUESTION

“Good day.

In the course of what would appear to be a straightforward application, two sets of requests for further information have been sent by the Hong Kong Immigration Department.

One would have thought that they would have put all the relevant questions in one letter.

Is is usual to receive multiple requests like this?

Thanks”

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PODCAST ANSWER
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19

Jun 2019

Interview: In the Last 20 Years Which Type of Hong Kong Visa Has Been Most in Demand and the Easiest to Anticipate an Approval For?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Family Visas, Investment Visas, Long Stay & PR, Musing, Refusals & Appeals, Special Programmes, Visitor Visas / 11 responses

First Published August 22, 2013

Which type of Hong Kong visa has been most in demand in the last 20 years and how easy has it been to get approval for this visa type?

On June 6th, 2013 I was interviewed by five law students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong about my experiences practicing immigration here over the last 20 years.

We covered a great deal of ground in the 90 minutes we spent together and over the next few weeks I will be posting the interview broken down into 31 different segments, covering almost every Hong Kong related visa and immigration topic there is.

The students were: Dickens Roy Ken LamSunny WongToby Yip, Margaret Wo and the lady who asked most of the questions and organised the session on behalf of the group, Jacqueline Cheng.

In this segment the question posed was:

In the last 20 years which visa type has been most in demand and easiest to anticipate an approval for?

My friends and colleagues over at Astus Services Group very kindly hosted us in their facilities in Central for this interview.

 Other Questions Asked During the Session

How has the experience of Hong Kong immigration policy changed over the last 20 years?

Do you personally find Hong Kong an attractive place to live, work and do business?

How has Hong Kong’s attractiveness changed for you over the last 27 years?

Do your clients typically find Hong Kong’s attractiveness today as it was to you 27 years ago?

Do Mainlanders typically enjoy the same kind of immigration experience as other foreign nationals do in Hong Kong?

In what ways do you think the different entry schemes may affect Hong Kong’s socio-economic development?

Do you think the relatively low number of foreigners coming to live and work in Hong Kong is due to it being hard to get a visa? 

Do you think that the Immigration Department suitably promote and encourage participation in the various schemes designed to attract foreign national talent to Hong Kong?

How effective is the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s website in educating and promoting Hong Kong to the outside world as a place to live and work and do business?

In the last 20 years which visa type has been most in demand and easiest to anticipate an approval for?

Has Hong Kong’s effort to forge a particular social fabric through the constructs of its immigration policy been successful do you think?

In real terms what is the difference between the General Employment Policy and the Admission of Mainland Talents & Professionals Scheme?

Has there been any demographic change since the introduction of the Admission of Mainland Talents and Quality Migrant Admission Schemes?

What do you think about the Immigration Arrangement for Non-local graduates?

Do you think that IANG actually allows a loophole for foreign graduates to game the immigration system here?

Has Hong Kong ever been used as a kind of stepping stone into another immigration jurisdiction?

Do you think the special programmes designed  for Mainland residents are as attractive now as they were when they were first introduced?

Is there a threshold to attaining a visa under the General Employment Policy?

What’s actually involved in getting a Hong Kong investment visa approved?

Can it be said ImmD are sometimes lax in enforcing immigration policy? 

Which visa program would be most beneficial for Hong Kong’s society?

What was it like being an immigration consultant in Hong Kong during the time of SARS?

We hypothesize that while the influx of non-residents into Hong Kong may benefit the economy in the short-term, the long-term negative impacts outweigh any short-term positives.  Do you agree with this statement?

Do you think that there is preferential treatment to non-resident workers?

What do you think is the most difficult challenge facing Hong Kong now, when it comes to competing for foreign talents and workers? (i.e. as compared to the 3 other Asian Tigers)

What’s your view on Hong Kong’s liberal visitor visa arrangements, especially regarding the large numbers of Mainlanders who come here now?

So we have 20,000 vacancies in the F+B industry but we don’t have people to fill these spots – what are ImmD doing about it?

What about the possibility of a graduate management trainee visa for a foreign national applicant?

How well does ImmD respond to the lack of skills in Hong Kong through adjustments to the General Employment Policy from time to time?

Do you think any improvements could be made on the entry schemes? If so, how?

What do you think is the biggest problem in dealing with ImmD as an organisation tasked with the dual role of providing a public service yet serving as the gatekeeper to Hong Kong?

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17

Jun 2019

Interview: What Was It Like Being An Immigration Consultant in Hong Kong During the Time of SARS?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Family Visas, Investment Visas, Long Stay & PR, Musing, Special Programmes, VG Front Page, Visitor Visas / 8 responses

First Published July 18, 2013

On June 6th, 2013 I was interviewed by five law students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong about my experiences practicing immigration here over the last 20 years.

We covered a great deal of ground in the 90 minutes we spent together and over the next few weeks I will be posting the interview broken down into 31 different segments, covering almost every Hong Kong related visa and immigration topic there is.

The students were: Dickens Roy Ken Lam, Sunny Wong, Toby Yip, Margaret Wo and the lady who asked most of the questions and organised the session on behalf of the group, Jacqueline Cheng.

In this segment the question posed was:

What was it like being an immigration consultant in Hong Kong during the time of SARS?

My friends and colleagues over at Astus Services Group very kindly hosted us in their facilities in Central for this interview.

 Other Questions Asked During the Session

How has the experience of Hong Kong immigration policy changed over the last 20 years?

Do you personally find Hong Kong an attractive place to live, work and do business?

How has Hong Kong’s attractiveness changed for you over the last 27 years?

Do your clients typically find Hong Kong’s attractiveness today as it was to you 27 years ago?

Do Mainlanders typically enjoy the same kind of immigration experience as other foreign nationals do in Hong Kong?

In what ways do you think the different entry schemes may affect Hong Kong’s socio-economic development?

Do you think the relatively low number of foreigners coming to live and work in Hong Kong is due to it being hard to get a visa?  

Do you think that the Immigration Department suitably promote and encourage participation in the various schemes designed to attract foreign national talent to Hong Kong?

How effective is the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s website in educating and promoting Hong Kong to the outside world as a place to live and work and do business?

In the last 20 years which visa type has been most in demand and easiest to anticipate an approval for?

Has Hong Kong’s effort to forge a particular social fabric through the constructs of its immigration policy been successful do you think?

In real terms what is the difference between the General Employment Policy and the Admission of Mainland Talents & Professionals Scheme?

Has there been any demographic change since the introduction of the Admission of Mainland Talents and Quality Migrant Admission Schemes?

What do you think about the Immigration Arrangement for Non-local graduates?

Do you think that IANG actually allows a loophole for foreign graduates to game the immigration system here?

Has Hong Kong ever been used as a kind of stepping stone into another immigration jurisdiction?

Do you think the special programmes designed  for Mainland residents are as attractive now as they were when they were first introduced?

Is there a threshold to attaining a visa under the General Employment Policy?

What’s actually involved in getting a Hong Kong investment visa approved?

Can it be said ImmD are sometimes lax in enforcing immigration policy? 

Which visa program would be most beneficial for Hong Kong’s society?

What was it like being an immigration consultant in Hong Kong during the time of SARS?

 We hypothesize that while the influx of non-residents into Hong Kong may benefit the economy in the short-term, the long-term negative impacts outweigh any short-term positives.  Do you agree with this statement?

 Do you think that there is preferential treatment to non-resident workers?

 What do you think is the most difficult challenge facing Hong Kong now, when it comes to competing for foreign talents and workers? (i.e. as compared to the 3 other Asian Tigers)

What’s your view on Hong Kong’s liberal visitor visa arrangements, especially regarding the large numbers of Mainlanders who come here now?

So we have 20,000 vacancies in the F+B industry but we don’t have people to fill these spots – what are ImmD doing about it?

What about the possibility of a graduate management trainee visa for a foreign national applicant?

How well does ImmD respond to the lack of skills in Hong Kong through adjustments to the General Employment Policy from time to time?

Do you think any improvements could be made on the entry schemes? If so, how?

What do you think is the biggest problem in dealing with ImmD as an organisation tasked with the dual role of providing a public service yet serving as the gatekeeper to Hong Kong?

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14

Jun 2019

Interview: Do Mainlanders Typically Enjoy the Same Kind of Immigration Experience as Other Foreign Nationals Do in Hong Kong?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Family Visas, Investment Visas, Long Stay & PR, Musing, Special Programmes, Visitor Visas / 19 responses

First Published July 24, 2013

On June 6th, 2013 I was interviewed by five law students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong about my experiences practicing immigration here over the last 20 years.

We covered a great deal of ground in the 90 minutes we spent together and over the next few weeks I will be posting the interview broken down into 31 different segments, covering almost every Hong Kong related visa and immigration topic there is.

The students were: Dickens Roy Ken LamSunny WongToby Yip, Margaret Wo and the lady who asked most of the questions and organised the session on behalf of the group, Jacqueline Cheng.

In this segment the question posed was:

Do Mainlanders typically enjoy the same kind of immigration experience as other foreign nationals do in Hong Kong?

My friends and colleagues over at Astus Services Group very kindly hosted us in their facilities in Central for this interview.

 Other Questions Asked During the Session

How has the experience of Hong Kong immigration policy changed over the last 20 years?

Do you personally find Hong Kong an attractive place to live, work and do business?

How has Hong Kong’s attractiveness changed for you over the last 27 years?

Do your clients typically find Hong Kong’s attractiveness today as it was to you 27 years ago?

Do Mainlanders typically enjoy the same kind of immigration experience as other foreign nationals do in Hong Kong?

In what ways do you think the different entry schemes may affect Hong Kong’s socio-economic development?

Do you think the relatively low number of foreigners coming to live and work in Hong Kong is due to it being hard to get a visa? 

Do you think that the Immigration Department suitably promote and encourage participation in the various schemes designed to attract foreign national talent to Hong Kong?

How effective is the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s website in educating and promoting Hong Kong to the outside world as a place to live and work and do business?

In the last 20 years which visa type has been most in demand and easiest to anticipate an approval for?

Has Hong Kong’s effort to forge a particular social fabric through the constructs of its immigration policy been successful do you think?

In real terms what is the difference between the General Employment Policy and the Admission of Mainland Talents & Professionals Scheme?

Has there been any demographic change since the introduction of the Admission of Mainland Talents and Quality Migrant Admission Schemes?

What do you think about the Immigration Arrangement for Non-local graduates?

Do you think that IANG actually allows a loophole for foreign graduates to game the immigration system here?

Has Hong Kong ever been used as a kind of stepping stone into another immigration jurisdiction?

Do you think the special programmes designed  for Mainland residents are as attractive now as they were when they were first introduced?

Is there a threshold to attaining a visa under the General Employment Policy?

What’s actually involved in getting a Hong Kong investment visa approved?

Can it be said ImmD are sometimes lax in enforcing immigration policy? 

Which visa program would be most beneficial for Hong Kong’s society?

What was it like being an immigration consultant in Hong Kong during the time of SARS?

We hypothesize that while the influx of non-residents into Hong Kong may benefit the economy in the short-term, the long-term negative impacts outweigh any short-term positives.  Do you agree with this statement?

Do you think that there is preferential treatment to non-resident workers?

What do you think is the most difficult challenge facing Hong Kong now, when it comes to competing for foreign talents and workers? (i.e. as compared to the 3 other Asian Tigers)

What’s your view on Hong Kong’s liberal visitor visa arrangements, especially regarding the large numbers of Mainlanders who come here now?

So we have 20,000 vacancies in the F+B industry but we don’t have people to fill these spots – what are ImmD doing about it?

What about the possibility of a graduate management trainee visa for a foreign national applicant?

How well does ImmD respond to the lack of skills in Hong Kong through adjustments to the General Employment Policy from time to time?

Do you think any improvements could be made on the entry schemes? If so, how?

What do you think is the biggest problem in dealing with ImmD as an organisation tasked with the dual role of providing a public service yet serving as the gatekeeper to Hong Kong?

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11

Jun 2019

If I Hold an IANG Visa and Leave Hong Kong to Work Overseas Before My 7 Years Are Up, Will I Still Qualify for PR Here?

Posted by / in Long Stay & PR, Your Question Answered / No responses

QUESTION

I’m a Chinese National and now working in HK on IANG Visa. 

I have been living in Hong Kong continuously for 6 years (I came here in August 2013, then 1 year study and 5 year work). 

My current IANG visa is valid until July 2022 (all visas are back to back). 

Theoretically I can get my PR if I continue working in HK until Aug 2020, but now there is a very good opportunity for me in the US. 

I read many of your posts and most of them are moving out of HK due to company deployment etc., but for me, I’m going to work abroad on my own will, and not for an HK company. 

What do you think about the probability to apply for a PR next Aug if I came back to HK every two to three months, and keep my MPF, bank account, credit card, etc?

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